Health Secretary: new NHS app will help in coronavirus fight

12 April 2020, 16:49

Matt Hancock has explained the new NHS app created to help combat coronavirus
Matt Hancock has explained the new NHS app created to help combat coronavirus. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has given further details on the creation of a new NHS app that is being designed to help in the UK's battle against coronavirus.

The secretary of state was speaking during the government's daily coronavirus press briefing from Downing Street on Sunday.

Mr Hancock outlined the new NHS contact tracing app that will allow people to see whether someone they know had begun showing Covid-like symptoms.

There is no release date for the app yet but experts are working to devise it urgently for release to the general public. Sixty per cent of people will need to use it in order for it to work, according to reports.

Users will be able to securely tell the app if they feel unwell, which would then prompt it to send an anonymous alert to other users they may have recently come into contact with.

"If you become unwell with the symptoms of coronavirus you can securely tell this new NHS app and the app will then send an alert anonymously to other app users that you've been in significant contact with over the past few days, even before you have symptoms so that they know and can act accordingly," he said.

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Mr Hancock added that the data collected by the app will "be handled according to the highest ethical and security standards and would only be used for NHS care and research."

He then said data would not be held for any longer than necessary.

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The health secretary explained that the app is currently being tested and they are working with the world's leading tech companies and experts in clinical safety and digital ethics "so that we can get this right."

He added: "The more people who get involved then the better informed our response to coronavirus will be and the better we can protect the NHS."

Elsewhere, Mr Hancock called it a "sombre day" to finally reach 10,000 coronavirus-related deaths.

"The fact that over 10,000 people have now lost their lives to this invisible killer demonstrates just how serious this coronavirus is and why the national effort that everyone is engaged in is so important," he said.

He added that there was "always more to be done" regarding PPE but there were now "record amounts in the system," while 121,000 gowns had been delivered around the country with more on their way.

The average time to deal with PPE queries have also gone down to two-and-a-half days in the past week, he continued.

The health secretary said the government was working "very closely" with pharmaceutical supply chains and hospital pharmacies to make sure medicines were available.